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Tanzanian pastor attacked at home as tensions rise over Islamic courts bill


20 May 2015

Breaking into his home during the night of 14-15 May, armed men attacked a Tanzanian church pastor, slashing his head with a sword. Also under extreme pressure, Pastor Samson’s older brother is facing court charges against him because of his outspoken opposition to the proposed introduction of Islamic courts across mainland Tanzania.

A church in Kaybitembe, Bukoba, in north-western Tanzania was attacked in February 2015
A church in Kaybitembe, Bukoba, in north-western Tanzania was attacked in February 2015

Local police said the attack against Pastor Samson Gwajima was an intended robbery, but the attackers took nothing from the house itself. According to his wife, the family have been receiving threats from a nearby mosque. Pastor Samson was left unconscious with a wound two inches deep. A local Christian leader told Barnabas that as of 19 May, Pastor Samson was still unconscious.

His older brother, Bishop Gwajima, is facing eviction from his church premises as well as court charges against him for his opposition to the Kadhi (Islamic) courts bill. If implemented, these Kadhi courts would deal with family matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance for Tanzania’s Muslim population.

Tanzanian Christians argue that these courts would undermine existing secular practices. They are also particularly concerned about the fact that these rulings cannot be appealed or referred to the High Court. Already in place in the Muslim-majority Zanzibar archipelago, the bill proposes to introduce Kadhi courts across mainland Tanzania.